Mennonites on the New York Stage

June 23, 2009

Three Mennonite-related stage productions caught the attention of theatre critics in New York City in the Spring of 2009: Vern Thiessen’s one-act play “A More Perfect Union” by the Epic Theater Ensemble; the musical Everyday Rapture by Sherie Rene Scott and Dick Scanlan by the Second Stage Theater; and Jessica Dickey’s The Amish Project at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

Thiessen’s two-character play, which ran through June 7, is “a story of race, religion, sex, plagiarism, politics, pregnancy and nuns” that New York Times theater critic Anita Gates found “stolid, static.”

Sheri Renee Scott starred in her own play about stardom, which Ben Brantley, the main critic of the New York Times, said, “easily qualifies as one of the year’s most extravagantly entertaining new musicals” (5-4-09). Scott is a “half-Mennonite” from Kansas, and her back-up singers are named “Mennonettes.” Half-memoir, the show develops Scott’s growing up, torn between two lovers, “Jesus and Judy [Garland].” When she sings “You Made Me Love You,” images of Jesus flash by on a screen.

Jessica Dickey acted all seven roles in her play about the hostage-taking in the Pennsylvania Amish school, exploring the theme of forgiveness. Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times gave the play rave reviews, calling the script “a remarkable piece of writing” and Dickey’s performance “completely convincing as she switches among the play’s seven characters” (6-13-09).

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